3 ways to use the book of Acts to inform your Church Planting practice
It is many years now since I started do this study. I mean to refer to the study of Acts as a way to keep a Biblical focus in Church planting. Since being a Church planter myself and training, coaching and supporting them, I have become convinced about the value of studying Acts when you are planting a new church. For a start this the book that explains the context in which churches were planted in the years following that first Pentecost. But this is not where the connections end. For, as you study Acts you learn to contextualise your message and then how to adopt the right strategy, that depended on the way people gathered in that first century in the life of the church. In addition, you can learn how to process challenges to the direction and understanding of the people in ministry with you. And, you can learn how vital the Holy Spirit is to the establishing of new faith communities. If these things weren’t enough, then there is also the recognition that as a Church planter you need to be looking for the next generation of leaders. All of this from Acts! So, I study it regularly.
Here is what I recommend – first, set a passage to be studied. This can be a few chapters (e.g. Acts 1-4) and allow the planting team the time to reflect on the passage (and their own planting context) for matters related to contextualisation; the gospel message; ministry context and strategy; and implications for the new faith community (but you can add more as you see the need). When the planting team has had the time to chew over what is in the Scriptures, ask them to share their insights about the work of Church planting from their study. It can take some time so allow about 90 minutes all up.
Then, I use another process when I meet with the Church planting team (in the field or in the prospective and pre-launch phase). I seek to make the connection between the insights from Acts related to Church planting and the strategy being implemented on the field. If you have identified a principle from the Scriptures, ask how do we implement this in the new faith community?
Next I would suggest another process. If you and your planting team have made a connection between the principles and the field, conduct a deliberate and intentional review of that principle. How did it go? Did it work? What have you learnt? What can be done better?
I have found that establishing a new faith community is a significant challenge because of the tendency for this work to become a supernatural ministry. There are such demands in it and yet, in the Scriptures there are lessons we can learn before you make a mistake in implementation in the field. That on it’s own is worth the process.
Colin Stoodley – Leader of MTQ, Queensland Baptists